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Can you eat juniper berries?

by Kashif Ur Rehman
Can you eat juniper berries?

Juniper berries are female seeds produced by various Juniper species. It is not a true berry but a cone with unusually fleshy and merged scales, which give it a berry-like appearance. 

In this brief guide we are going to address the query, “can you eat Juniper berries?”. We will also discuss what Juniper berries are, their health benefits, and their side effects.

Juniper berries are edible. If you take alcoholic beverages, then you might have had an experience with Juniper berries since they are the ones that give jin martinis their extinct taste and flavor.

There are many species of Juniper and all have berries but the ones that produce edible Junipers berries are:

  • Juniperus communis
  • Juniperus drupacea
  • Juniperus oxycedrus 
  • Juniperus phoenicea
  • Juniperus californica
  • Juniperus deppeana

Some species like Juniperus sabina are toxic and should be avoided. Most Juniper berries have the same size but they range between four and twelve millimeters in diameter and are green when young and turn purple-black when mature. They are fleshy when young and harden into seeds over time.

What are Juniper berries used for?

  • Provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
  • They may have anti-diabetic properties
  • Antibacterial and antifungal activities
  • May promote heart health
  • High nutrients and powerful plant compounds

Provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.

Juniper berries are rich in essential oils and flavonoids that function as potent antioxidants and may help reduce inflammation.

Juniper berries are also rich in the flavonoids luteolin, rutin, and apigenin, which studies have shown can act as powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents.

Antibacterial and antifungal activities

Animal studies have shown that Juniper berries have powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties. These are attributed to potent compounds in their oil, including myrcene, sabinene, limonene, and alpha- and beta-pinene.


They may have anti-diabetic properties

Juniper berries were used by traditional medicine practitioners to treat diabetes, and recent studies confirm that they may have anti-diabetic properties. This is due to the high antioxidants in the berries.

May promote A healthy heart 

Juniper berries can reduce high cholesterol in the body and also increase good cholesterol levels hence reducing the likelihood of heart conditions like a heart attack.

High nutrients and powerful plant compounds

Juniper berries have high vitamins including Vitamin C which acts as a strong antioxidant, protecting your cells from damage caused by free radicals and also helps in the immune system, blood vessel synthesis, and also collagen synthesis.

What are the cautions when using Juniper berries?

  • Pregnancy
  • Toxicity
  • Drug Interaction
  • Allergies


Juniper berries were often used to stimulate menstruation or ease childbirth. For pregnant women, the berry and its products could cause a miscarriage, and should, therefore, be avoided.


When you consume large amounts of Juniper berries or the oil, you may receive a toxic amount of thujone and other oils, which can cause diarrhea, as well as kidney problems in serious cases.

Drug Interaction

If you are taking certain medications, such as lithium, there could be negative interactions, which may cause complications and so it is advised to seek medical guidance.


Some people are allergic to these cone parts of the Juniper tree, so it is recommended you start by using a small amount of the berries or oil before making it a regular practice.

What are the uses of Juniper berries?

Meat curing

They are crushed together with salts and are used to cure meat due to their rich aromatic properties which sinuses in the meat and gives it a unique taste.

Drink Garnishing

They are incorporated in alcoholic beverages as garnishes and hence make the drinks more enjoyable. You should try them in your next Gin or Tequila.

Gin Making

Juniper berries are used in the gin-making process and are only needed in small amounts just to give gin its unique taste.


They are used as spices in different dishes due to their aromatic compounds and distinct flavors.

The Bottom Line

Juniper berries have good health benefits and so should be incorporated into one's health routines but caution should always be taken for pregnant women and also it is advisable to speak to your doctor before the use of these berries.